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Wow, November has been a crazy month! Even with my social media hiatus I was completely overwhelmed. Part of me wants to take life hiatus and do nothing at all this December 😛 But the rest of me really missed it. So I’ll probably just be on limited usage for a while 😉

Why was I so overwhelmed? I’ll give you a quick run down of my month and a little look ahead at some great things coming up. To start, the main event!

NaNo

I had a lot of fun with my first attempt at NaNo! I joined the virtual write-in for my area once, but found I really work best alone. LOL! However, I checked in with friends a lot and motivated myself by posting fun updates when I hit milestones. As for finishing, if you just look at word count I didn’t do too well. I went in knowing it was highly unlikely I would make 50k. So, I mentally set a goal of 40 with a minimum of 20…and I hit just over 11.

Really, I’m ok with it. My brain very insistently switched tracks to research half way through the month, making it really hard to concentrate. But I still wrote more in a month than ever before and made solid progress on a new project! And hey, I know a lot more about indie publishing now 😉

Personal Life

I’ve also had a lot going on in my personal life. First off, I had a birthday! I celebrated turning 26 with some of my very favorite things: A bonfire, Turkish food, reading, writing, and awesome people. We also had a great Thanksgiving with my Grandma. And wonderful news: I found out I’m getting published! More on that in at the end.

Unfortunately, not everything has been good news. My health went through a few major swings this month. Nothing too bad. I’ve just been really tired and it’s made productivity much harder.

There has also been some unpleasant stuff going on at work. Can’t say too much here. But essentially, my amazing boss had to resign suddenly due to a very serious health problem. Not only are we worried about her, but it has been very rough managing the workload. If you believe in prayer, I would ask that you pray for everyone involved as we try to figure our way through the rest of the school year.

So, it’s been a lot. But over all, things are truly looking up as we go into December and Christmas!

Looking Forward

As mentioned previously, I’m getting published! I found out a couple weeks ago that a story I submitted to Havok was accepted. For those who don’t know, Havok is a publisher of Speculative Flash Fiction (aka Sci-fi and Fantasy stories under 1,000 words). They post a free story to their website every day. And mine will be going up January 3! It will be my first published work and I am so incredibly excited!

In other news, I’m very seriously considering going indie for my books. As I have never had a business course, this really scares me. But I’ve been doing extensive research and my dad is an accountant. That’s got to count for something, right 😉 My current goal is to get this all up and running by the end of 2020.

So, that’s been my whirlwind of a month! Whew, made me tired just writing about it. How was yours? Anything exciting happen? Is there any way I can pray for you as we close out the year? Drop a line in the comments below or send me a message!

NaNo Announcement!

I’ve been hearing about NaNo for years, and was always so daunted by the idea of writing 50K in a month that I never tried. But this year, I’m finally joining in, and I’m so excited! However, in order to give this thing my best effort, I’ll be taking a short hiatus from social media. Look for me in December with all the updates!

For those of you who don’t know about NaNo. It’s officially called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and is a great community building program to assist writers in completing a book of 50,000 words in one month. I’ve been exploring the new site and there are tons of cool features! From pep talks by well known authors, to forums where you can ask questions or just geek out, to buddies who encourage each other and share work, writers of every level can find something to love. And don’t forget your personalized page for each WIP! They even have a special Young Writer’s Program. If you’re a student or teacher of writing, definitely check this out!

I’ve been doing a ton of prep work through the month of October as I want to be sure I can give this thing my best shot! Though I won’t be too worried about winning 😉 I’m just looking to have a good time and find some motivation to get started on a new project.

What’s this project, you ask? Well, if you read my Red Warnings story from Sunday, you’ve got a pretty good idea! I’m so proud of that story, I’ve decided to build off it and bring to you a Norse inspired Little Red re-imagining 🙂

Intrigued yet? Let me whet your appetite with a rough blurb!

A Shieldmaiden of the Drake Clan sworn to protect her people, Svenja finds herself inadvertently in possession of a dangerous magical cloak. She knows to use the cloak will be to unleash an ancient curse. But when her little sister is taken by the dread Warg Clan, the soul-sucking cloak’s power may be the only thing capable of saving her.

Need more? Lets top it off with a pretty aesthetic!

And that’s all I can say right now 😉 Have a lovely Thanksgiving and I’ll see you in December!

Red Warnings

A dire warning. A cursed cloak. A wolf that steals one’s soul. What’s more fitting for Halloween? If you like Little Red and Werewolves, you’ll enjoy this! I’d give it a PG 13 rating for some darker themes and a little blood.

All my life I have been warned. Mother had a list. Don’t play in the river, you’ll catch a cold. Don’t pet stray dogs, they carry disease. Don’t scowl so much, your face will stick. The boys will break you. The woods will kill you. And the wolves will steal your soul. But there is one warning that stands out from the rest.

“Listen well, Little Rose,” Granny said on my birthday, handing me a package. Inside was a fur cloak dyed a deep red. I brushed my hand across the soft pelt and gasped at an odd tingling in my fingers. Granny pulled my hand back and held my gaze. “This cloak holds a great power, one that can protect but may just as often destroy. You will learn to use it properly in time. Till then you must never put it on if I am not there.” This is the only warning she has ever given, and the only promise she has ever asked of me.

*****

I trudge, grumbling, through the whirlwind of snow. Where has that girl gotten to? She was right beside me not five minutes ago. Honestly, how many times must I remind her to stay within shouting distance? I stop again to peer about me. With hair that dark, my wayward sister should be a beacon in this pale storm. But I can’t see far through the thick, soft white. I will have to rely on my ears.

“Lilly!” As soon as the cry leaves my throat, I know she will never hear it. The howling wind yanks fiercely at my braid and claws through my threadbare skirt. I hug the basket to me in an effort to keep both the fresh bread and myself warm. I have the cloak with me, of course. I carry it always, hoping Granny will give me another lesson. But no matter how the cold bites, I will not put it on alone. I made a promise.

I stumble on. Every moment the storm grows more frantic and I with it. How could I have lost her again? If mother were here … but no, don’t even think that far. Mother is gone and never coming back. This bundle of raven haired, bright eyed curiosity is all I’ve got left, and if I don’t find her soon…. But not to worry! Not to worry, we are well overdue at Granny’s by now. Surely, she will have sent someone to fetch us. Perhaps Lilly’s there now. That’s when I hear the scream.

Running blind, I head in the direction of the marrow-freezing sound. “Lilly! Lilly!” Another scream, much closer now. Then silence. A few more feet and I stumble over something in my path. Sprawled upon the snow, I take little notice of my scattered belongings. What draws my attention instead is the nightmarish form I fell over. My sister, bloodless pale, lies contorted under me. A dark shadow lurks behind.      

Watching her dark blood pool against the blinding snow, something snaps within me. Warnings and promises alike dissolve in the heat of my fury and fear. Snatching up my death-red cloak, I throw it on, staggering at the power coursing through me. I’ve had very little training yet; instinct will have to do. The shadow leaps forward and a viselike grip encompasses my chest. My nails elongate just in time, sharpening as I shove back hard. A loud crack. Moans fill the air. I’m now snarling above a cowering huntsman.

“Please,” he begs, “I didn’t realize! It’s so hard to see.” But there is no feeling left in me. I lunge.

It’s over quickly and I stand panting in the cold; even this pelt is not enough to block the chill residing within me. I have never before felt this emptiness from the cloak. I want to take it off, shove it away, but find that I can’t. No matter how hard I try to stand, how viciously I tug at the red fur, it will not be moved. And that is when I finally understand. My howl cuts straight through the sharpest wind and echoes across the woods.

I should have heeded the warnings. I should have kept my promise. For the Wolf has stolen my soul.

Oath of the Outcast Review

This one’s not actually YA, but it’s so good I had to write a review!

When I saw this cover, I was intrigued. I mean, how awesome is that font? And ‘Dragon Keep’? I’m all there! Then I saw some of Claire’s posts and realized it’s a Scottish fantasy about brothers. At that moment, I knew I would love it.

Synopsis: Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts.

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies.

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten.

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?

Things I Loved:

  1. Rhys/Mountain Baron: The brooding hero with a dark past and heart of gold. I love that for all his gruff exterior, he really cares about people. He’s basically spent the past seven years running around the mountains adopting the unfortunates and doing away with the truly evil.
  2. Family Bonds: I love a good sibling story, and this is one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. Rhys may be bitter and hold nothing but hatred for his former clan, but NO ONE touches his little brother. No matter how hard he tries, he just can’t escape the fact that he still loves his family, and they haven’t given up on him either.
  3. The Side Characters: So, there are a lot of them, and most don’t get much page time. But the main ones are all complex, multi-layered characters with distinct personalities and their own solid backstories.
  4. No Romance: While I read a lot of wonderful YA books that have great relationships and deal with serious, deep issues, it was so refreshing to take a step out of the norm and try something with a bit less boyfriend drama and a little more lives-on-the-line drama.

A Note of Caution:

As I mentioned before, this one is not YA and deals with some darker content than most of what I review here. I didn’t think it got too graphic, and I’m a wimp when it comes to bloody stuff, but if you are sensitive to subjects like torture read with caution.

My Rating: 5/5

An action packed story of the fierce loyalty between brothers. Full of dynamic characters, snark, and man drama. Seriously can’t wait for the sequel!

Breathless Slippers

Like most girls, I was a bit obsessed with dance as a kid. I would have birthday parties at the theater and took ballet till I was twelve. I wasn’t very good. I still can’t do a split or even touch my toes. But I loved getting to perform with my friends! I very rarely get to see a ballet now, but when I do I always come away wishing I hadn’t given it up. It’s this wish that inspired today’s story.

It can happen faster than thought: this loss of breath. Not twenty-four hours before, the slippers had been breathing deep under the spotlight. The dancer leaped skillfully across the stage. Now, the battered apparel lay in a small box, staring breathlessly up into the young woman’s tearstained face. Slowly, the lid closes.

The darkness is immediate, pressing surprisingly heavy against the delicate satin. A musky smell, like old fur coats and mothballs, wafts through cracks in the box. They hear the creaking of the wheeled chair moving in the distance. Abandoned to this silent, stifling, dark, they wait for the time they might breath. Breath again in the spotlight. 

It’s not till a year later that the dark lifts. The suffocating slippers gasp in a desperate breath. The face above them is no longer tearstained. Instead, the dancer stares hollowly at the ragged mementos for several minutes, then sighs and closes the lid once more. Another year passes before the light shines in. The slippers find their breath hard to draw and the dark quick to return.

This ritual is repeated another year, and another, and again, until the slippers can no longer find the strength to breathe. They try to wait patiently. But after so long hiding in the dark, they begin to forget what life in the spotlight was like.

After nearly a decade, resignation settles so deep within the shriveled hearts of satin that they no longer try to breath. It takes a beat too long to notice the light’s return. Two beats too long, staring morosely up at watery brown eyes, to see the slight glimmer of hope within. But they notice immediately when long fingers gently lift them out of their dark prison. For the first time in a long time, their gasp is not born of desperation.

Resting comfortably on the soft cotton of their dancer’s dress, the astonished slippers look eagerly forward as she carefully wheels her way to a new room. There, a strange man lifts them up to hang high on a pink wall, just above a crib. Staring down at the sleeping baby, the slippers begin, very slowly, to find the strength to breathe.

The years pass. With each one, they breathe more freely as they watch the young girl grow. They watch and remember what the spotlight was like. Yet they are content to live out their days here, watching over this beautiful charge now grown into a strong young lady. They no longer wait in vain, longing for the bright lights and hard stage.

And so, they are startled by a sudden gust of wind as they are pulled down. The woman looks lovingly at them lying in her daughter’s hands and nods. The slippers hold their breath as smooth young feet slip into them once again. As the cool floor slips away under their quick movements, they finally breathe deeply. They breathe and live again in the spotlight.

It’s not “Happily Ever After,” but they live until new slippers can be bought to take their place. For them, it is enough. And the woman smiles.

Story Peddler Review

I picked this one up at last year’s Realm Makers on the recommendation of several friends. And as it won three awards at this years Realm Makers, it’s high time I write a proper review. Also, I got a pic with Lindsay at the awards banquet! Check out the Gallery and see her awesome Wonder Woman cosplay.

Synopsis: Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories-she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king. During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down … and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers … and they’re after her too.

Things I Love:

  1. The magic system: This is what initially drew me to the book. Art itself is the magic. And not just the typical arts, but even healing and sword fighting. How unique is that?!
  2. The creativity theme: This book has so much to say on God-given talent, the importance of self-expression, and creativity’s role in telling truth. It’s a theme that is very close to my heart and is an integral part of my own work. I was so stoked to find another author writing on these topics. And doing a superb job!
  3. The weavers: There’s a found-family aspect to the Corsyth Weavers I just love. I’m a sucker for family/found-family stories. And the weavers specifically remind me of my own tribe of Realmies!
  4. The world building: I love how everything in this world is instantly recognizable, but still has a fantastical element. There isn’t much time spent on exposition or setting. You jump right into the action and don’t ever struggle to keep up.

Things I Don’t Love:

  1. Brac: Brac is a very problematic character. The romantic part of me really want’s to like him. He’s Tannie’s best friend and the closest thing she has to family. He’s a decent guy who really cares about her and doesn’t mean anyone harm. But the more logical part of me just can’t get over how dense he is. He’s constantly doing stupid things that put others in dangerous situations. More importantly, he’s never truly accepted Tannie for who she is. He loves her, but is determined to change her into what he sees as appropriate. And then he’s surprised when it drives her away.

My Rating: 5/5

Conclusion:

A wonderful story that instantly drew me in with its vibrant characters and engaging, fast-paced plot. This paired with an incredibly unique magic system and hard-hitting themes of truth in art make it a must read for creative types!

Guest Post: Emily Hayse!

It’s my first guest post and I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend and fellow Realmie, Emily Hayse! She’s a lover of log cabins, strong coffee, and the smell of old books. Her writing is fueled by good characters and a lifelong passion for storytelling. When she is not busy turning words into worlds, she can often be found baking, singing, or caring for one of the many dogs and horses in her life. She lives with her family in Michigan and has just released her Sophmore novel! Seventh City is an Alaskan Fantasy about a brave young girl intent on rescuing her brother from captivity.

Welcome, Emily!

And now, I’ll turn it over to her as she introduces us to Maki!

Thank’s so much, Rae! For my character interview I chose my protagonist, Maki, and for sake of spoilers I interviewed her prior to the events of the book. By way of introduction: Maki is thirteen, dark-haired, short, and stubbornly loyal.
Favorite season?
I like autumn, when the salmon run upstream and the animals are fat and carrying good fur.
Weapon of choice?
A spear. Tsanu taught me to throw when I was six. When I was eight, I had my first large kill.
What is your greatest fear?
That I will lose those who I love most—Tsanu, Kavik, Iki—and that I could have saved them.
If you could have any life, what would it be?
To live in peace and plenty with Tsanu. Perhaps I will marry, but I doubt it. I am contented with taking care of Tsanu, since he does not always take care of himself. And I would be a very good hunter with many spears.
Best childhood memory?
Once, Tsanu took me on a hunting trip a full cycle of moons away, and we camped with a handful of others on the coast, by the sea ice, and hunted seals. Every night we ate well, told stories, and kept each other warm. It was a good journey.
If there was one food you could eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Berries and fruit, because I have never had my fill before, though dried pantak or seal oil would be more practical.
Biggest accomplishment?
I took down a male tuttik at thirty strides, which takes a great deal of strength. And Kavik, who leads the young warriors and is the best hunter besides Tsanu saw it. I was very proud of that.
What do you hate the most in your life?
The Invaders. Especially the captain. After that, mosquitoes.
Who do you admire the most?
Tsanu or Kavik. I want to be as strong and brave as they are and have been when I grow up. Tsanu raised me from the time he was twelve, and Kavik, coming back from the wars, refused to give up but trained the young warriors of our village at great risk to himself.
If you could only keep three things you currently possess, what would they be?
Iki my wolf dog, my best fishing spear, and a flint for fire.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I would travel to the Jade Mountains because I have never been there and their strange green peaks have fascinated me ever since I was young.
What is one secret dream that you have?
To ride one of the hornless beasts with the many-colored coats and the leather on their backs and metal in their teeth. They are so swift and strong, though I hate their riders, I do envy them.
What is one thing that makes you cry?
I do not cry often, but sometimes when we sing a great song, or the sun strikes the peak of a distant mountain just so, or Tsanu speaks of my father, who he remembers a little. Sometimes then I cry.

What is one hope that you have for the future?
That the Invaders will leave and that Tsanu and I and our village live in peace in our village for the rest of our lives.

Want More?

Well, that’s got my interest! Here’s a little more info on Seventh City.

Synopsis:

“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”

All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.

Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.

Find Seventh City Here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-City-Emily-Hayse-ebook/dp/B07VHTS1KV/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Seventh+City&qid=1566436757&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seventh-city-emily-hayse/1132869291?ean=9781733242806

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Seventh-City-Emily-Hayse/9781733242806

Find Emily Online:

Instagram: @songsofheroes
Twitter: @theherosinger
Website: emilyhayse.com
Facebook: /theherosinger

Blog Tour!

Interested in following the rest of the blog tour? Check out the rest of Emily’s stops!

Blog Tour Dates and Stops:  August 20-30

August 20: Kickoff post: The Herosinger Blog http://emilyhayse.com

August 21: Guest Post: Down the Rabbit Hole https://melodypersonetteauthor.blogspot.com

August 22: Spotlight: Deborah O’Carroll https://thepagedreamer.wordpress.com/ 

August 23: Interview: My Lady Bibliophile http://ladybibliophile.blogspot.com

August 24: Guest Post: Rae Graham http:// https://writerraegraham.com/blog/

August 25: Q&A: Ink Lizard/Liz Koetsier http://elizabethkoetsier.com/blog/

August 26: Spotlight/Review: Claire Banschbach https://clairembanschbach.com

August 27: Interview: Smudged Thoughts/Kenzie https://smudgedthoughts.wordpress.com

August 28: Review:  Kaleigh Stroink http://kaleighsbookreviews.blogspot.com

August 29: Interview: Unicorn Quester/Laura A. Grace https://unicornquester.com/blog/

August 30: Review: Father’s Joy/Anne Rhys https://aaablogfathersjoy.wordpress.com